Flavor your food with flavanols (flavan-3-ol

image: Scientists show flavan 3-ols (FL), a group of dietary constituents found in cocoa, apple and grape seeds, are effective in fighting obesity and preventing lifestyle diseases , by inducing the browning of fats. The image shows histochemical observations of inguinal adipose tissue from mice not treated with FL (left) and treated with FL (right). Repeated administration of LF resulted in considerable fat browning, as evidenced by the multilocular morphology of the fatty tissue
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Credit: Naomi Osakabe from the Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT)

In cold weather, brown adipose tissue (BAT) or brown fat generates heat to keep the body warm. Compared to white adipose tissue, BAT has more mitochondria – subcellular organelles associated with energy production – which allows it to burn calories and produce heat by activating the mitochondrial decoupling protein 1 (Ucp- 1). Stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) after exposure to cold, exercise, and calorie restriction is well known to induce fat browning. Dietary polyphenols can also activate BAT, causing heat to dissipate from our bodies. The activation of BAT and the browning of white fats are therefore both therapeutically significant in the fight against cardiovascular diseases and their comorbidities.

A group of scientists have examined the browning of fat induced by dietary administration of flavan 3-ols (FL), a family of “catechins” containing polyphenols abundant in cocoa, apple, grape seeds and red wine . In a new study published in the journal Nutrients, the team led by Professor Naomi Osakabe of the Graduate School of Engineering and Science, Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan proved that LF improves the browning of adipose tissue by activating SNS. The results revealed a direct correlation between fat browning and FL consumption, which could help researchers develop new treatments for obesity-related diseases.

The authors of this study previously found that a single oral dose of LF caused fat burning and increased blood flow to skeletal muscles. Here, they studied the effects of single and multiple dose administration of LF in the adipose tissue of mice and found that LF activates fat browning via SNS, which secretes ‘catecholamine’ neurotransmitters such as adrenaline (AD) and norepinephrine (NA). They gave cocoa-derived FLs to separate groups of mice in two independent sets of experiments. One group received a single dose of LF and their 24-hour excreted urine was collected for testing. The other group received repeated doses for 14 days before being dissected for the collection of brown and white fat. All fat samples were tested for genetic and protein markers that indicate fat browning, while urine samples were tested specifically for AD and NA levels.

Higher concentrations of AD and NA in urine after a single dose of FL clearly demonstrated activation of SNS. Although the use of urine samples to assess SNS activation is still controversial in clinical research, it has been validated in stressed rodents. “Oral administration of LF probably activates SNS as they are considered to be stressors in these models,», Explains Professor Osakabe.

The team then used the fat tissue obtained to study the effects of long-term treatment for FL. They were delighted to find that the white fat of mice fed FL for 14 days eventually turned brown. Some of these cells also exhibited notable structural changes, such as a “multilocular phenotype” and appeared to be smaller than normal cells. Since BAT dissipates thermal energy, does long-term consumption of FL change the amounts of heat-bound protein? To answer this question, the scientists showed that the levels of Ucp-1, along with other proteins linked to high temperatures, increased in mice fed repeated doses of FL. Browning markers, referred to as “beige markers” in this study, were also abundant in these mice. “All of these proteins work together to induce the development of the BAT phenotype,Exclaims Prof. Osakabe.

The team believe the results of their study may help prevent lifestyle-related illnesses. Interestingly, this is not the first time that FL has worked wonders. Improvements in glucose and insulin tolerance were observed after a single dose of administration of foods rich in FL. Taken together, these results highlight the need to discuss both the acute and chronic aspects of the metabolic responses generated by LF consumption.

It is evident from this research that SNS activity in response to the intake of FLs caused the observed changes in the fat of the mice. “Although the mechanism of fat browning is not fully understood, it is possible that repeated administration of FL may produce browning via catecholamines and its receptors ”, explains Professor Osakabe. “Further studies will be needed to understand how this process is induced by foods rich in FL,», She concludes.



Original article title: Repeated oral administration of flavan-3-ols induces browning of fatty tissue in mice through sympathetic nerve activation

Newspaper: Nutrients

DO I: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13124214

About the Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT), Japan

Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT) is a private university with campuses in Tokyo and Saitama. Since the establishment of its predecessor, the Tokyo Graduate School of Industry and Commerce, in 1927, it has maintained “learning by doing” as a philosophy in the education of engineers. SIT was the only private science and engineering university selected for the Top Global University Project sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and will receive support from the ministry for 10 years as of the 2014 academic year. Its motto, “Nurturing Engineers Who Learn From Society and Contribute to Society”, reflects its mission to foster scientists and engineers who can contribute to the sustainable growth of the world by exhibiting their over 8,000 students in culturally diverse environments, where they learn to cope, collaborate and build relationships with other students around the world.

Website: https://www.shibaura-it.ac.jp/en/

About Professor Naomi Osakabe from SIT, Japan

Professor Naomi Osakabe is currently working at the Functional Control System, Graduate School of Engineering and Science, Shibaura Institute of Technology. His research interests span food and nutritional sciences as well as public health, with the goal of understanding how the digestive organs perceive the elements of food. His group is collaborating with food manufacturers on studies to prevent metabolic syndrome, motor syndrome and dementia. She is a member of the Japanese Society for Biosciences, Biotechnology, and Agrochemistry and the Japanese Society for Food Factors, among other notable academic societies. She has a number of research papers to her credit, as well as various research awards.

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